Hahn Plastics Automation Opens Connecticut HQ, Reveals Plans for Rethink Sawyer Cobots

Avon, Conn., is new HQ for robotic supplier; will expand capabilities of its new collaborative robots line.

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As reported in our Sept. ’18 NPE Close-Up, Hahn Plastics Automation, Inc. is a new U.S. branch of the German Hahn Group, supplying robots and plastics automation systems. It recently opened its headquarters in Avon, Conn. The firm represents two German suppliers, Waldorf Technik and Geku, as well as Wemo of Sweden. The new U.S. company will manufacture Geku and Waldorf Technik equipment and will import, stock and integrate Cartesian robots from Wemo. The new firm is headed by Markus Klaus, previously injection molding division manager for Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. Klaus noted that Hahn will continue its relationship with Robotic Automation Systems (RAS) of Waunakee, Wis., which distributes Wemo robots. (See Keeping Up section for new models from Wemo.)

As reported in a December Starting Up, Hahn Group has expanded into the field of collaborative robots (cobots) by acquiring the trademarks, software, patents, drawings and tooling for the Sawyer line of cobots from the former Rethink Robotics, which has ceased operations. In an exclusive interview with Plastics Technology, Philipp Unterhalt, recently appointed managing director of Hahn Group and interim CEO for Rethink, spoke about Hahn’s plans for its cobot business.

Unterhalt noted that Hahn—a €200-million company with 1200 employees in 12 countries—was already the largest distributor for Rethink Robotics. “We believe in the technology, including Rethink’s world-class software and user interface. We think we can improve the reliability and versatility of the hardware,” Unterhalt said. Hahn’s plans involve three phases. First priority, already operational, is servicing the 2400 one-armed Sawyer units already in the market. (Hahn has no plans to service or manufacture Rethink’s original two-armed Baxter cobot, of which at most 24 were ever built.)

The second phase will be to create a new version, “Sawyer 2.0,” that will be faster, quieter and more accurate. No time frame has been established. And the third phase will be to develop a family of cobots, including larger models with higher payload capacity and reach. Other projects will be, on the one hand, to develop new software functionality for cobots; and, on the other hand, to create a lower-cost, “lighter” model of cobot, since the current Sawyer has more functionality than some customers need.

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